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Smoking Hot! Black Smokers - CYPRUS ARTISAN GIN - By Stanna Wieclawska-Kyriakou
05 Dec 2021

The concept and development of a new gin is always exciting news to a Ginnolier, especially when it’s local. So, the announcement that Paris Christofides, the celebrated concept designer, along with the esteemed Roland Wig of the Lionspirit Distillery, and in collaboration with botanist and herbalist, Miranda Tringis from Cyherbia Botanical Park in Cyprus, are producing a new artisan gin is newsworthy on a cosmopolitan scale.

 

Miranda Tringis Paris Christofides & Ronland Wig

 

The acclaimed international chef, mixologist and concept consultant, Paris, is no stranger to the world of spirits and alcohol, having worked within the industry for over 40 years, and in partnership with both Roland; following on from his recent success of the Kingfisher Gins from the Lion spirit Distillery in Kato Platres, and Miranda; an internationally recognised herbal educator and formulator, ensures that this is a meritorious gin. A Black Smokers Gin. And therefore worthy of this Ginnoliers palate and digital pen!

 

 

 

Following several years of the Gin Boom, the conception of yet another gin in an already saturated market may be considered foolhardy by the major players and producers. However, especially following the limitations imposed by the pandemic, we are seeing a significant move by the gin consumer away from the established brands on supermarket shelves and towards small batch gin distilleries and artisan craft gin makers. Fortunately, the same can be said of the Cypriot gin market and the discerning palate of its consumers. Lockdown had its benefits. 

 

That being said, a concept is only as good as its development and delivery, so the genesis and process of forming an original flavour and aroma profile is not confined to the ingredients of that new gin, but also the idea and origin behind it. 

 

With over six hundred herbs are found in Cyprus, mainly due to its unique geography, geology; in particular the rich and fertile volcanic rock and terra rossa soils, and varying altitude and mild climate, the opportunities for gin making are immense. Whether they are indigenous or imported through trade or foreign rule, the use of herbs has been significant to the island of Cyprus throughout history, with herb processing and trade dating back as far as 2,000BC, and is well documented in both the archaeological data and historical manuscripts. 

 

The island is also one of the five leaders in citrus cultivation in Europe, meaning that citrus fruits abound and include original citrus fruits such as oranges, citrons, pomelos and mandarins, as well as the hybrid citrus fruits of tangerines, limes, grapefruits, lemons and nectarines. 

 

So, one would presume you have all the ingredients for a successful gin, and three Masters of their craft should ensure the perfect blend, balance and originality. However, look back and see that idea and origin are also essential if you require that new gin to be auspicious and unique. 

 

Speaking to Paris Christofides, he told me that it was the simple cohesion of three diverse minds, many years of joint experience and a desire to create a gin that evoked not only sensory memories of taste and aroma but also a the thoughts and images of this beautiful Mediterranean island, that led to the Black Smoker gin being created. 

 

“We closed our eyes and thought of our country and its beauty; the smells and its tastes, and all tried to describe what we want in this bottle. 

A gin offering to God that blesses our island, as beautiful as it is. 

A gin that came from the produce of the earth. 

A gin that is connected with the formation of the terroir.” 

 

And they have succeeded. Black Smokers Gin is everything he says, and more! 

 

The name itself is not descriptive, and there are no smoky or oily aromas or tones to this gin. It proudly declares itself a gin named for the distinctive Troodos Mountain ophiolite. Created during the uplift and deformation of the oceanic crust ‘black smokers’ vented highly mineralised hydrothermal fluid onto the ocean floors of the African, Eurasian and Arabian plates, creating significant base metal sulfide ore deposits, mainly of copper and zinc. These ‘black smoker’ effusions resulted in large deposits of the diamagnetic metallic element copper, and it is believed that Cyprus formed its name from the Sumerian word for copper ‘zubar’. Combined with ‘black smoker’ zinc deposits, the much harder alloy bronze was formed and this also contributed towards the island’s name in the Sumerian’s word for bronze ‘kubar’.  Finally around 3,500 years ago Cyprus entered the economic powerhouse that was the Eastern Mediterranean, and through overseas trade, the island has already given its name to the Classical Latin word for the metal, which appears in the phrase aes Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum.

 

It is the geological happening of ‘black smokers’ that inspired this gifted trio to create the craft gin of Black Smokers, capturing the magical citrus and cypress smells of Troodos with its rich soils and botanicals. The blend of a dozen, individually chosen botanicals, light in juniper and overlaid not only with earthy spices, but also crisp and fragrant angelica, means a light and surprisingly fresh palate. Its notes of coriander, oregano, pine and peppercorns evoke memories of warm Mediterranean tavernas and suggest a complexity in aroma that is rare in mass-produced gins. 

 

Collaborating with one of Europe’s leading herbalists was a conscious choice in this gin process, symbolically following a period when health has been foremost in our minds and life practises. It is significant that the herbs used in this unique gin all have powerful, healing properties. The juniper is rich in Vitamin C, flavonoids and other antioxidants. Medicinally it also promotes anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties. Angelica, sometimes called the Holy Ghost plant, is also associated with the Archangel Michael, with legend stating that the angel appeared in a dream to a monk, showing him that the herb could cure the plague in Europe during the Middle Ages. The Gerarde Herbal of 1597 supports the claim, and it is still used today as a powerful, anti fungal, antibacterial and antiviral natural remedy. It is even shown through current research that it may have anti cancer and anti-tumor properties. A divine herb indeed, it also reduces anxiety. What more reason do we need to try this flavoursome Black Smokers gin? The peppermint and elderflower add other complex layers of flavour and aroma to the gin making it ideal to drink alone over ice or with a fresh Mediterranean tonic. Their cooling and soothing effects on the digestive system, are also combined with antibacterial and antiviral properties, making them useful remedies for colds and catarrh. 

 

The combination of the base ingredients, dry mixed grains with clear, filtered Troodos water and yeast, is then heated and stirred to create a fermentable ‘gin mash’. Strained and distilled five times with all the herbs and fruit, black peppercorns are later added for a spicy endnote. 

 

Copper carries its story from the beginning to the end as the resulting Black Smokers gin flows from a hand-crafted copper still pot, to be sorted, diluted and finally filled into black glass bottles. 

 

Close your eyes and travel back 90 million years, feel the tectonic plates move, see the huge vented clouds of black smoke rise from deep beneath the ocean and taste the Black Smokers artisan gin. You won’t taste anything like it and you will never look back. 

 

This is a precious gin, the first batch being only 650 bottles and all numbered. So snatch a moment in time, and relish this light, fragrant citrus gin!

 

 

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